Synopsis

Hopeless ex-residents of Nasla Tower fear they might never be compensated

Beyond demolition

asim rehmani/Bol News

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KARACHI: “Our shelters have gone after the tower’s demolition. We are homeless now. What was our fault in all this? Who will compensate us for this huge loss? We are still seeking answers to all these questions,” stated Mohammad Ali, who had to leave his residence after orders to demolish Nasla Tower were issued.

On Feb 1, the day of retirement of Gulzar Ahmed as chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), the demolition of the illegal residential building Nasla Tower in Karachi was also completed, on his orders. But the residents of the ill-fated building still await their compensation.

Former CJP Gulzar Ahmed in the last quarter of his term decided to demolish the illegally constructed residential building Nasla Tower located off Shahrah-e-Faisal.

The former CJP ordered the authorities concerned to demolish the 15-storey residential building as it had encroached on a nearby service road. The order was issued by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the former CJP.

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The court was earlier informed that the size of the plot of Nasla Tower had increased from 780 square yards to 1,121 square yards without authorisation. The apex court also dismissed the review petitions filed against its earlier decision by the residents and the builder against the demolition of Nasla Tower. Moreover, the court ordered the city’s commissioner to ensure that the owner of Nasla Tower return the money given by the people to buy residential flats in the building. But this part of the decision has not been implemented yet and the victims are still awaiting their refund.

Hopeless victims

Mohammad Ali, a resident of the demolished tower, seems hopeless and thinks that they might not be compensated ever. Ali expressed his resentment over the situation and said, “The honourable ex-CJP had passed two orders, one is to demolish Nasla Tower and second is to compensate victims. So why aren’t the authorities concerned with showing consideration and setting the criteria for compensating the victims?”

Abdul Qadir, a former resident and one of the committee members representing residents of the demolished tower, expressed his concern and said that demolition of the building was injustice to them as they had verified the relevant documents before buying the apartments. “The tower had been constructed after obtaining all the necessary no-objection certificates from the authorities concerned.

“I am from Gujranwala and settled here in Karachi. I sold my inherited land and bought two flats here. I used to live in one while the other was rented as a source of income and now I am left with nothing in hand. If some other illegally constructed buildings had been demolished along with Nasla Tower, it would have made some sense but why only Nasla Tower?” argued Abdul Qadir.

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According to Abdul Qadir, the Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) is conducting meetings but in vain. “They are not responding positively. We are not getting any clear response as after every meeting, the matter is suspended for a week or two. We had high hopes from ABAD but we did not see any clear picture yet. The builders’ phone is not responding. The only thing we get in the name of compensation is anxiety, nothing else.”

‘We are trying our best’

On the other hand, ABAD (South Region) chairperson Suffian Adhia claimed, “A meeting has been held with the victims on January 25. We have approached Shehab Sarki, a lawyer, to come up with some legal solution. Work on the proposal is underway and we will hold a joint meeting with the victims after 15 days on the completion of the proposal. We are trying our best to compensate the victims.”

Abdul Qadir said the former residents of the tower feel disenfranchised and that their human rights have been violated. They say there could have been other solutions to this problem which had never been considered.

“The dejected resident Shamim Usman passed away following her eviction due to the demolition of her home. What else, if not this, is a human rights violation?,” he observed.

The ABAD official demanded that the matter must be investigated fairly. “And if an example is to be set, then those who are real culprits should be punished.”

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He also pointed out other allegedly illegal constructions within the city and said, “ABAD has been pointing out several other illegally constructed buildings. At Nazimabad, hundreds of four-storey buildings are being constructed on the plot of ground plus one in the city but no one is there to question them. Moreover, there is a 12-storey building at 120 yards plot in Delhi Colony which in fact the former CJP took notice of and passed an order to demolish. This has not been carried out till date.”

The ABAD official also pointed out that Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society (SMCHS) has reportedly sold the land to the owner but they have not been summoned to court. “SMCHS is also answerable. How could they sell the land if they had no proprietary rights?”

The demolition of Nasla Tower was started on November 22, 2021 on the orders of the former CJP. By the evening of Feb 1, the ground floor of the tower had been demolished and small debris was being removed.

The multistorey residential building was demolished in two and a half months’ time.

 

 

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